― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
I wrote to my Rabbi this morning. It was easier to write to him than, say, to write a "Dear God" letter, or worse, "Dear diary." But I had to write, because I am so disheartened, so saddened and sickened by the events that seem to have consumed us, moving rough shod in a random swath of destruction and hatred and death. Here, in part, is what I wrote:
I hate what has been happening in Boston. It makes me ill, to think of this kind of carnage and innocence and hatred and loss, all rolled up together into a messy, bloody heap. Like so many, I feel impotent and aggrieved and disheartened and uplifted by the events. Heroism is such a transcendantal moment: offers of comfort to complete strangers, running one way rather than another, all of it.
It is this mounting blood-thirsty quest for vengeance that makes me shudder again, though. And it is blood thirsty: Kill them. I hope they die. Catch them and kill them. Again and again, I hear it-- not even whispered, not even a hesitant question. Just: Let me see them bloody and dead.
Is our sense of justice, and tolerance, and (for many of my friends) inflatable? So: the death penalty is a bad thing, except when we're really angry? Or scared? Tolerance is demanded, except when we need to be intolerant? I do not condone the actions of these two men. And really-- they have been tried and found guilty in our heads, in our hands-- they have not been convicted in a court of law. Isn't that supposed to mean something?
I am NOT saying these were innocent. I don't know if they were, could only guess. But my heart is breaking nonetheless. Yes, there should be justice-- but have we suddenly made a weird turn somewhere and landed back 2500 years ago-- an eye for an eye justice? Is that what we want? Is that really justice?
I'm simple, perhaps. And quite naive. And terrified to say what I really feel about all of this, for fear of instant castigation. But I always thought that goodness and justice and love and all that crap should cover all the bases, even when -- especially when -- it makes you uncomfortable and angry and sad. But all I hear right about now, is this salacious and triumphant howl of victory over more dead bodies. I guess, it's just the right bodies that are lifeless right now...
There is a quote from Gandhi that has been making its rounds on facebook over the last week, about evil individuals and the mass of decency and humanity. I quoted Anne Frank (above), reiterating her belief in the basic goodness of people, even as she hid in fear of the mob that was howling outside her door, thirsting for her blood and her death. And make no mistake, her pursuers were absolutely convinced of her guilt, of their righteousness. She was an animal to be hunted, vermin to be exterminated. She was not human.
In a place where there are no humans, let us all strive to be human...